Finding a Source of Strength

A mental health awareness program was established at Nixa High School

Maddie McCrea, Junior Copy Editor

The Sources of Strength wheel can be a coping tool when one goes through hard times. (Photo Provided by Cody Sletten)

Sources of Strength, a nation-wide initiative, is a suicide, violence and bullying preventative program that works to equip people with methods of prevention and support. A Sources of Strength program was established at Nixa High School during the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
NHS counselor Carrie Stormzand, one of the advisors for the program at the high school, said Sources of Strength is a program to help counter personal struggles.
“It’s really a program of hope, help and strength and when you’re feeling any of the big three emotions — anger, anxiety and sadness — you can turn towards the Sources of Strength wheel and … see what’s going to help you get through this,” Stormzand said.
The Sources of Strength wheel is a model divided by eight sections, each relating to different aspects of mental health.
National presenters from the Sources of Strength national organization educated students at NHS on the Sources of Strength wheel before the program was started at Nixa. Senior Kelsey Cook, a Sources of Strength peer leader, participated in the training and said it was beneficial to her.
“We talked about mental health at our school and we broke off into small groups to talk about the Sources of Strength … wheel and really broke down how it affects our lives individually and how we want to bring that back to the school,” Cook said.
Sophomore Sophia Stricklin, who is also a Sources of Strength peer leader, said she thinks the program has been beneficial to the NHS.
“I believe Sources of Strength is a really great way of showing students and staff that the school cares about the wellness of those in and outside of our community,” Stricklin said. “Often mental health gets overlooked by performance in classes and extracurriculars. This is the boost we need to really demonstrate the importance of all around wellbeing.”
Although the program was first introduced to NHS at the beginning of the school year, it hasn’t been fully incorporated.
“I think we’re still in the infancy, crawling baby steps of the process,” Stormzand said. “I think for the students who have had an opportunity to experience what Sources of Strength can be, there’s a complete buy-in. For those who are still … confused or uncertain about what all of this means, the buy-in is not fully there. It’s a learning process and we’re all here to learn.”
Stormzand said Sources of Strength at NHS is welcoming of the feedback given by the student body and staff.
“They have different experiences,” Stormzand said. “Which means we still have to work on bridging that gap and finding the middle ground to where more students are going to see the benefit and how it’s going to help them in their own personal lives.”
Some members believe that the best way to improve the program is to increase the amount of student involvement.
“I know it’s kind of hard to get students to be involved in things like that because it is scary and we don’t necessarily know what we’re doing at this point because it’s so new,” Cook said. “But I think having students decide what activities are going back to STAR and what’s being discussed is really important.”
Even with growing the program at Nixa and discovering what works, Sources of Strength has already made an impact on students.
“It’s made me feel like I’m helping to make a difference, no matter how small it may be, in the mindsets of the people around me,” Stricklin said. “With learning new strategies and ways to help others, I’ve been able to lift myself up along with them. I’ve always really enjoyed doing what I can to help those around me out, and this has been a really great place to do just that.”